WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – A former volleyball coach who admitted to having inappropriate contact with two of his players was back in a courtroom Wednesday for sentencing.
Richard Knox, 46, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Knox had pleaded guilty to a bill of information in September. He was charged with six counts including importuning, pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, and gross sexual imposition.
Prosecutors say he was soliciting sex from two young girls, and even touched one of them inappropriately on at least two occasions. The children were 12 and 13 years old at the time.
Judge Ronald Rice had harsh words for Knox in court Wednesday.
“You unmistakably knew it was wrong. Instead of embracing the roles of mentor and coach, as a real man would, you chose to perversely use this opportunity to groom them for your premeditated sexual assaults,” Rice said.
Prosecutors say Knox had sexual images of the girls on his phone and even touched one of them inappropriately.
“This court equates your actions to the recently sentenced former gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar. Fortunately, due to the strength of these two young girls, future unsuspecting victims have been spared. Mr. Knox, because of their bravery, your abuse stops her,” Rice said.
Knox addressed the court, expressing regret.
“I am still shook up from it. I’m losing sleep and your honor, I just can’t believe I did that. It was such a short period of time of my life that I did regret it,” Knox said.
Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Gabe Wildman said no amount of jail time will make things right for the victims but believes justice was served.
“I think the judge doled out some justice today by sending him to prison, and I think the victims were happy with the result,” Wildman said.
Knox will have to register as a tier two sex offender for the next 25 years and is disqualified from holding any teaching or coaching jobs.